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The effect of primary care fellowship training on career satisfaction, happiness and perceived stress
  1. Christopher Duffrin,
  2. Lars Larsen
  1. Department of Family Medicine, East Carolina University, Brody School of Medicine, Greenville, North Carolina, USA
  1. Correspondence to Professor Christopher Duffrin, Department of Family Medicine, East Carolina University, Brody School of Medicine101 Heart Drive, Greenville, NC 27834, USA; duffrinc{at}


Purpose This study was designed to measure the impact of primary care fellowship training on the subsequent happiness, career satisfaction and perceived stress levels of fellowship-trained physicians as compared to a general population of Family Medicine physicians in North Carolina.

Methods A written survey instrument was completed by fellowship graduates of the Brody School of Medicine (n=53) and general population of Family Medicine physicians in North Carolina (n=203) in 2011. The survey included general demographic and practice variables, and validated psychological scales on subjective happiness, satisfaction with life, and perceived stress.

Results Fellowship graduates (n=50), and non-fellowship graduates (n=203), exhibited similar levels of satisfaction with life (fellows=27.36 SD 5.45, FM physicians=26.91, SD 5.99 on a 5–35 scale), statistically higher levels of perceived stress (fellows=5.92, SD 3.03, FM physicians=4.98, SD 2.70 on a 0–16 scale), and significantly higher levels of subjective happiness (fellows=5.61SD 83, FM physician=4.75 SD 1.00 on a 1–7 scale). Female fellow response was significantly higher on the Satisfaction with Life and Subjective Happiness Scores, and lower on the Perceived Stress Scale. Male fellowship graduates presented with a reverse relationship, with higher perceived stress and lower satisfaction with life and subjective happiness.

Conclusions Fellowship training exhibited a positive psychological effect on the graduate respondents versus the general physician population. Scores on various well-being scales were higher than the general Family Medicine physician population as a whole, although stress levels were also higher. Female physicians seem to garner a much larger gain in satisfaction than male fellowship graduates, who score slightly worse than the general family medicine population on the satisfaction with life and Perceived Stress Scales.

  • Medical Education & Training
  • Primary Care
  • Social Medicine

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